Cowgirls Respond Late to Hang on Against BYU, 86-74
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowgirls led for most of the contest Tuesday night and then withstood a BYU rally late on their way to an 86-74 win inside the Arena-Auditorium.
It was Wyoming’s first win over a Power-5 opponent since December of 2016 against Colorado.
The Cowgirls led for over 37 minutes in the contest and closed the game on a 23-10 run in the final 3:49 after the Cougars took a 64-63 lead.
“After they took the lead there, I called a timeout to settle us down a bit and reminded the girls, ‘hey, this is what we prepared for,’” said head coach Heather Ezell postgame.
“We knew they were going to have a run, but the teams we’ve played so far in the non-conference has prepared us for this moment. I thought the girls took that to heart and made that change right there and decided to make a run of our own.”
The two teams started off trading buckets to open the game, but the Cowgirls (4-2) were very sharp, taking an early 12-6 lead. Wyoming led 16-10 at the first media timeout. After the timeout, the Cowgirls extended their lead up to as many as 11 multiple times in the frame before BYU (6-1) made a pair at the free-throw line to end the first and UW led 28-19 after one.
In the second quarter, both teams’ offenses dried up in the early stages as both turned the ball over multiple times. Following the media timeout though, BYU was able to make a run and cut the deficit down to five before a Malene Pedersen corner 3-pointer got UW going again. The Cowgirls went up by 14, 37-23 with a little under three minutes to play in the half, forcing a BYU timeout. The Cougars ended the half with a three after the Wyoming lead was up to as many as 16 as UW led at the break, 41-28.
BYU came out in the third quarter and scored the first five as the Cowgirls opened the second half with three-straight turnovers. The Cougars continued to chip away as the frame went on and the Wyoming lead was down to 47-39 at the media timeout. Out of the timeout, a couple of Marta Savic layups got the lead back up to 12 but BYU would counter down the stretch of the quarter to make it just 55-47 after three quarters of action.
An Ola Ustowka 3-pointer opened the scoring in the fourth to get UW back up by 11. After a BYU hoop, a Tess Barnes corner three pushed the lead up to 61-49 with a little under eight to play. The Cougars would claw their way all the way back, however, and took a 64-63 lead with just 4:11 to play as UW called a timeout. It was BYU’s first lead since early in the first quarter.
Following the timeout, a McKinley Dickerson driving layup pushed Wyoming back in front before another Barnes 3-pointer made it 68-64 with under three to play. UW wouldn’t trail again from there as Dickerson scored nine of her 17 points in the final 3:49 of the contest. Another Dickerson layup through contact made it a six-point advantage after a defensive stop.
After the Cougars got a pair of free-throws, Dickerson drained a 3-pointer the next time down the floor, and it was 73-66 with 1:38 remaining. With a foul away from the ball on Dickerson’s make, UW retained possession and canned another three, Barnes’ third of the night and it was 76-66.
“I thought that was the McKinley we saw from two years ago tonight. She just kind of took over a couple of times there and then I thought Tess at that look too, the confidence was very high. The way those two stepped up when we really needed them to was huge for us tonight.”
Following another defensive stop from Wyoming, Dickerson made a pair at the line with 47.7 seconds left as BYU called a timeout. The Cougars made a jumper with 36.4 seconds to go and the Cowgirls called a timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt. After Barnes made two at the stripe, BYU called its final timeout.
From there, the Cougars got a couple of hoops and then kept sending the Cowgirls to the free-throw line, but the nation’s No. 1 free-throw shooting team salted the game away from there.
The Cowgirls ended the contest with four scoring in double figures and were led by Pedersen’s season-high 19 on 6-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 at the line. Dickerson shot 6-of-11 as well off the bench for her 17 while Barnes tied a career-high with 13 points. Allyson Fertig added 12 and along with Maren McKenna, led UW with five rebounds.
Savic gave the Cowgirls stellar minutes off the bench, going for eight points on 4-of-4 shooting. Emily Mellema led the way with four assists in the win while Fertig and Kati Ollilainen had three each.
Wyoming shot 53.2-percent from the field and made 7-of-22 from 3-point range with five of those treys coming in the fourth quarter. UW finished the game 13-of-14 at the free-throw line and went 8-for-8 in the final minute.
The Cougars shot nearly 54-percent for the game and hit 6-of-13 from beyond-the-arc.
The Cowgirls out-rebounded one of the nation’s top-rebounding teams, 28-27 in the contest and pulled down 10 offensive boards as Wyoming enjoyed a 20-4 second-chance points advantage. UW also had a 48-38 edge in points in the paint and got 31 from the bench.
The Cowgirls also turned the ball over a season-low eight times against BYU.
Next up is another big-time test for the Brown & Gold as the Cowgirls travel to Oklahoma State for a noon, Mountain Time contest Sunday, Dec. 3 in Stillwater.
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